The book market is flooded with Leadership Books: Servant Leadership, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Results-based Leadership, The Absolutes of Leadership, Lincoln on Leadership, Guilliani on Leadership, The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell, and the list goes on and on.
Before you know it, we’ll see a book entitled the Leadership Secrets of Brad Pitt.
With all the focus on Leadership, we run the risk of ignoring management. Don’t misunderstand: owning a business named Leadership Development has me looking at leadership issues a lot. But after wading though the flood of Leadership books, I’m noticing there’s not much out there with a focus on management issues. The tide is out in that department.
The concern here is that management issues are just as vital to operational success as leadership issues. We can’t have one without the other.
Yet again, last week I heard about how a construction worker named Dave got promoted to foreman. He didn’t have a clue about his new job description – he’d been a blue-collar construction worker his whole life. Now his boss was expecting him to delegate, make work schedules, discipline troublesome workers, and keep every personality on the job site productive and happy. Oh yeah, he needs to keep on schedule, too. Or else.
One day Dave is pounding nails. The next he’s pounding his head against the wall.
If you’ve heard me say it before, please excuse me, because I feel I have to say it again: The skills required for success at one level does not qualify one for success at the next.
Management is a skill that is learned, and company leaders need to start realizing this. The fundamental skills involve self-management and work management, with more advanced skills needed for people management. But none of these come with the wave of a magic wand and a promotion. These skills are not learned or improved upon by osmosis – they must be purposefully acquired and practiced.
Laura Crawshaw is a coach for managers and executives who are in trouble. She says “people often get promoted because of their technical skills, but they get fired because of their lack of people skills.” The other day Crawshaw received a phone call about a sixteen-year veteran in a large company. Seems this person had rose to a middle management position, but created a problem for himself by negating the opinions and feelings of those around him. After several company sponsored visits to a counselor, the trouble persisted. Crawshaw was called in to try to save the remaining years of the man’s career.
Bottom line: Loyalty and dedication do not a manager make, and even old dogs need to learn new tricks.
The philosophies of management vary. Management consultant F. John Rey identifies four “pillars,” which are plan, organize, direct, and monitor. At Leadership Development we identify three overarching skill sets: Self-Management, Work Management, and People Management. Stephen Covey equates leadership with identifying the right things to do, and management with getting those things done right.
All of the above have merit, but whichever way one looks at the philosophies of management, the New World Dictionary says that it all boils down to “the art or manner of controlling the movement or behavior of something.”
To work within that definition, managers have to be equipped with certain tools. Just like our construction worker friend Dave doesn’t use a table saw to pound nails, managers don’t use one management tool for every situation. Managers still need to have a variety of quality tools in their tool bag so they can pull them out at the appropriate time, as the situation requires. And they need to be comfortable with how each tool works.
Companies would do well to adopt the following attitude about management skills: Train early, and train often. Businesses that continually develop their managers’ skills are those that benefit from improved workplace effectiveness, and usually an improved bottom line.
Despite the dearth of hot selling books on management, plenty of information is readily available – all one has to do is look just past the best-sellers’ rack.